Conair demos variable-speed pellet-conveying system at K 2016

Technology prevents pellet fracturing, angel hairs and equipment wear

First shown at NPE in Orlando, FL, last year, a new, improved version of the R-PRO conveying system from Conair (Cranberry Township, PA) makes its European debut at K 2016, which started today and runs through Oct. 26 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Conair’s Doug Brewster, Product Manager, Conveying, notably has improved on the original by allowing processors to tune the system and match material speed to application requirements. Users now can dial conveying speed up and down on the fly to avoid pellet fracturing, dust, angel hairs and equipment wear. “And it’s all done on the FLX-128 Plus control panel,” Brewster told PlasticsToday from the show floor. “You don’t have to crawl under any silos to make these adjustments.” Conair is showcasing the technology at stand J59 in hall 10.

R-PRO —the name stands for resin protection—initially was presented as a dense-phase vacuum conveying system. After showing the technology at NPE, Brewster, who invented the system, put in some more R&D work and has brought the results to K 2016. R-PRO is capable not only of running at slow speeds, but can also operate in the more conventional dilute phase, with individual pellets fully suspended in high-speed air, or at any speed in between. “We have found we can control that transition very effectively and run right on the edge in a sort of mixed-pulse phase,” said Brewster in a prepared statement. “We think we can use this for higher volume unloading where more air flow may be desirable but truly high-speed operation is not necessary.”

In slow-speed, dense-phase conveying, pellets move at speeds between 300 and 1200 ft/min; in conventional high-speed conveying, speeds vary between 4500 and 6000 ft/min.

Conair Doug Brewster
Conair’s Doug Brewster puts the R-PRO conveyor system through its paces using the FLX-128 Plus controller at K 2016.

At the K, Brewster is demonstrating the R-PRO using the new FLX-128 Plus controller, a smarter, faster and more powerful version of the popular FLX-128.

What’s important, says Brewster, is that the “resin doesn’t get beaten up” as it is conveyed long distances through tubing. “If you’re moving PET or low-density PE with a conventional system, you could be emptying your dust collector several times a day. With the R-PRO, 20,000 pounds [of material] will produce a small cup of dust. That could be a whole day’s run,” says Brewster.

Slow-speed conveying does not mean a deficit in throughput, adds Brewster. “The loss in throughput is insignificant,” he says. “At high speed, you’re blowing more air and less material. And at slow speeds, you’re not destroying the material in the process.”

An emphasis on innovation and customer satisfaction has been good for Conair’s bottom line. Larry Doyle, President, expects to end the year showing 3 to 4% growth compared with 2015, and he sees no headwinds on the horizon. Mexico has been especially strong: “Demand is coming from transplant companies as well as from the automotive sector,” says Doyle. Conair has been present in the Mexican market, initially through a subsidiary, since 1976.

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